We celebrated Christmas Day with our tradition of having Christmas dinner with our dear, dear friends and their family. It's become part of the tradition to sit around the table after dinner and reminince about our 26+ year friendship. The kids always like hearing stories of our younger days. This year, our friends have a cube full of cards with questions designed to promote discussion around the table. One of the questions was, "How will you know when you're grown-up?" It was fun to hear some of the younger kids' answers: When I'm married, When I have children, When I'm living on my own. As someone who was married and living on her own at 19 and had her first child when she was 23, I know that those events do not make one a grown-up.
My oldest son had proposed to his girlfriend three days earlier and I was feeling overwhelmed by how their engagement made me feel. I felt as if their engagement had moved me to the next level of the adult hierarchy; I felt more grown-up. So, my answer on Christmas Day was that I felt like a grown-up now because my child is going to be getting married. On our way home, my husband reminded me of another time I'd said I felt like a grown-up: when my second parent died -- and he was right. That truly was when I felt like a grown-up. Both of my parents died when they were 71, a fairly young age. I was 28 when my dad suddenly died of a heart attack brought on by prostate cancer and I was 35 when my mom died from liver cancer. I had been their princess and with both of them gone I felt that I was moved to the next level of life: adulthood. My mom was no longer the matriarch of the family; I was. The thing is, being a grown-up doesn't feel like I thought it would. I used to say I was never going to grow-up because I didn't want to become old and stodgy. I wanted to stay young in my heart, to feel joy in a sunny morning, to be able to run like the wind if I felt like it. Well, guess what? I still do all of those things and I'm definitely a grown-up! It's all a matter of perspective and definition and I'll look for both perspective and definition in a make-believe book titled The Joy of Life: A Happy Grown-up's Guide to Living.